The day has finally come as the National Lacrosse League returns to the Capital Region! The Albany FireWolves return home for a matchup versus the Rochester Knighthawks. This weekend’s game will be at 7 p.m. in the Times Union Center on Saturday, December 18, and broadcast live on My4 WNYT and ESPN Plus, and can be heard on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio.
The FireWolves opened their inaugural season on the road against the Toronto Rock, falling 10-9 thanks to two late Rock goals. Rochester has begun the season with a 1-1 record, defeating the New York Riptide 13-12 in overtime and losing to the Buffalo Bandits 12-8. The FireWolves will look to secure their first win as a new franchise, while the Knighthawks seek to hold a winning record against the three other teams across New York State.
FireWolves Players to Watch:
Andrew Kew burst onto the scene during his rookie campaign, finishing as a finalist for Rookie of the Year. Kew more than followed up his debut season with an electric first game of his sophomore season against the Toronto Rock. The Oakville, ON. native logged a game-high six total points on four goals and two assists. The final two of his four goals on the night came in the fourth quarter to tie the game and take the lead. Look for Kew to be a major part of the FireWolves’ offense in not only this contest, but throughout the team’s entire inaugural season.
The only word to describe Joe Nardella’s faceoff track record is “dominant” and that was no different throughout the FireWolves’ first game. The former PLL Faceoff Man of the Year showed why he is one of the best in the business, owning the faceoff circle at an 81% clip in game one on the season. Nardella won a whopping 17 of 21 faceoffs on the night, giving the FireWolves numerous extra possessions and scoring opportunities. Expect Nardella to continue his dominance at the stripe all season long and continue to give the FireWolves extra possessions following all quarter breaks and goals scored.
A league vet and a team captain, Reilly O’Connor will be another essential part to the FireWolves offense all season long. O’Connor has begun the season already second on the team in total points following a one goal and two assist performance in the team’s 10-9 loss in Toronto. O’Connor will be a factor in crunch time for the team as his goal came late in the third quarter and his second assist came on Kew’s fourth quarter goal to take the lead 9-8.
Opposing Players to Watch:
Having been in the league since 2006, Shawn Evans rejoined the Knighthawks ahead of the shortened season after originally being drafted by the club. He has been a staple in the league his entire career, including a stretch of five consecutive seasons scoring 100+ points. After enjoying a seven-point game in the Knighthawks’ first outing of the season, Evans was contained in the second week of the season. He did not find the back of the net despite recording 11 shots on goal, but he did contribute two assists and six loose balls. On the season, Evans has totaled nine points on two goals and seven assists.
Entering his fifth year in the league and second with the Knighthawks, Holden Cattoni began the new season with a bang. The forward recorded seven points in the OT win over the Riptide in the first game of the season, tied for a game high. Cattoni followed up his strong performance with another solid outing in the Knighthawks’ 12-8 loss to the Buffalo Bandits a week later. The forward was tied for the team-high with three goals and also had an assist, giving him four total points and 11 through two games on the season.
Evan Kirk made his debut with the Knighthawks in the first week of the season, recording 24 saves on 36 shots on goal in the OT win. In Rochester’s second game of the season, Kirk recorded 42 saves on the 54 Bandits shots on goal. The 10-year veteran is coming off a career best 9.26 GAA through 10 games in 2020 and will certainly be a challenge for the FireWolves offense to beat.
This will be the first meeting between the FireWolves and the Knighthawks this season. The two clubs will faceoff one more time on Saturday, February 12 in Rochester.
Do not miss your opportunity to witness history! Fans can secure their tickets for the historic inaugural 2021-22 FireWolves home opener today! For more information regarding home opener tickets, visit https://albanyfirewolves.com/tickets/2021-22-home-opener/ or call/text the FireWolves front office at 518-362-4900.
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